Petroleum is the largest source of energy for the United States. When measured in energy units, the US relies on petroleum two times more than either coal or natural gas, and four times more than nuclear power, hydroelectricity, and other renewable energy sources. On average, every US citizen consumes about 24 barrels of petroleum per year.

Petroleum refining processes are very energy-intensive, often requiring large amounts of power and process heat. The greenhouse gases (“GHG”) from US refineries account for 25% of industrial sector emissions, making it the largest sub-category among industrials. Over half of refinery GHG emissions come from the process heaters and steam boilers.

Refinery and upgrading processes also generate a significant amount of process wastewater. While thermal cracking and coking processes produce a relatively small amount of sour wastewater from steam strippers and fractionators, significant amount of wastewater is generated during coke removal and cooling operations and from the steam injection process to cut coke from the coke drums. On average, thermal cracking and coking processes generate about 3 gallons of wastewater per barrel of process feed or approximately 6 million gallons of wastewater per year in the US.

In addition to being cost-effective, the PetroBeam process is more environmentally responsible than traditional thermocatalytic systems.
The PetroBeam process can reduce the GHG emitted by the coker on a per barrel basis. By converting 30% of the feedstock that would otherwise go to the coker, the PetroBeam process reduces the energy demand on the heaters and boilers supporting the coker.
Any reduction in coker demand also reduces the production of petroleum coke (a solid by product of cokers that can be burned for fuel) and the water used to remove the coke. Based on current production levels from the Canadian oil sands, upgraders could reduce their coke production by 6 million tons per day with a PetroBeam process. Coke production is a serious issue for upgrading heavy oil as evidenced by the oil sands coke inventory nearly doubling over the past 10 years to nearly 50 million tons. In order to remove the coke build up from the coker, high pressure water is used to flush frequently the coke out of the collection drums.